February 11, 2008

Va. Guard Soldiers join the Commonwealth's firefighting effort

Virginia Guard News Release

Virginia National Guard aviators Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Anderson (center) and Warrant Officer Aaron Trombley (left) review the map location of their target area with Dave Slack, the regional forester for the Tazewell region of the Virginia Department of Forestry. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

RICHMOND, Va. — More than 120 Virginia National Guard Soldiers went on state active duty Feb. 11 to join in the Commonwealth’s battle against wild fires raging throughout the state. While a Virginia National Guard helicopter dumped 600-galllon buckets of water to help contain fires in the Tappahanock area, more than 100 Soldiers trained at Fort Pickett to be prepared for duty on Feb. 12 in Roanoke and Bedford.

“The Virginia National Guard helicopters were amazingly effective today,” said Dave Slack, the regional forester in the Tappahanock region of the Virginia Department of Forestry. “Our objective for the Guard was to protect structures in the area from the fires, and we accomplished that mission.”

The target area was a housing development approximately one mile southeast of Center Cross, Va., Slack explained. The terrain in that area would have made it very difficult for the Department of Forestry to have battled the blaze with their tracked vehicles. It would have take a crew of four to six fire fighters and Department of Forestry personnel three to five days to accomplish what the Virginia Guard helicopter did in an hour, Slack said.

As the Virginia Guard aviators were helping contain fires with their water dumpes, approximately 100 Virginia Army National Guard Soldiers conducted firefighting training with the Virginia Department of Forestry at Fort Pickett.


Virginia National Guard aviator Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Vineyard prepares an aerial water bucket for operation. The Virginia Guard helicopter made a total of nine water drops using its 600-gallon water bucket. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)


The Soldiers are scheduled to leave Fort Pickett in the early morning Feb. 12. About 60 Soldiers are scheduled to travel to the Roanoke Armory to establish a command post and begin assisting Forestry Department officials with the fire fighting effort in the Carvin’s Cove area. About 40 Soldiers are scheduled to travel to the Bedford area and assist with the fight against fires in the Smith Mountain Lake area.

The Soldiers will be supporting Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Virginia Department of Forestry by providing fire line construction and clean-up efforts in the effected areas.

The Soldiers are from elements of the 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry and come from Lynchburg, Danville, Martinsville, South Boston as well as other cities throughout Virginia.1st Battalion recently returned from a year-long mission in Kosovo and was celebrating their return at a Freedom Salute on Sunday. This is their first call to state active duty since their return in November.

For more information, contact Maj. Cotton Puryear with the Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office. He can be reached by cell phone at 540-407-5644 or by email at cotton.puryear@us.army.mil.

A Virginia National Guard helicopter from 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation departs the Tazewell, Va. airport to begin firefighting operations near Center Cross, Va. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Members of the media who wish to cover the Virginia Guard’s effort should contact Maj. Puryear or come to one of the two Armories where command posts will be established on Feb. 12.

Roanoake Armory Location
Roanoke, Va.,

Bedford Armory:
Bedford, Va.

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